Aston Villa and Republic of Ireland forward Scott Hogan is back fit after several months out.
The anticipated spike in form for Scott Hogan has yet to come bear fruit in Aston Villa or Ireland colours. The arrival of his former Brentford master Dean Smith at Villa was meant to transform Hogan’s game to the levels we all saw at the London club. It was this prolific goalscoring which persuaded Villa to pay approx £12 million for his services.
He is very much a back up for club and country at this moment, coming on in matches for 10-15 minutes and doing very little in this time. Throughout his Villa career, it’s been very much stop-start, starting a few games, getting injured, coming on from the bench, and so on. No player can function at their optimum level in this kind of cycle, so it’s not entirely Hogan’s fault for his lack of form. Having watched him a lot for club and country, he always tries to get involved in the game, but invariably struggles to settle to the speed of the match. He is a striker who doesn’t look comfortable when he has the ball, preferring to have as little touches of it as possible. It sometimes looks as though the game passes him by and he ends up looking like he does nothing of note. I feel like he needs to make a more concerted effort to improve his touch and general ball play to improve his chances of starting games. He does make some great runs to stretch the opposition defence which go unnoticed by team mates.
He’s very much a ‘fox in the box’ and Dean Smith would know this, but he has some task trying to shift Tammy Abraham from the Aston Villa team, who’s hold up play is a key feature of how the team play under Smith, so although I’m sure he wouldn’t be afraid of using Hogan, he would be wise not to upset the balance of the team during this encouraging run they are currently on.
The situation Hogan is in with the Ireland national team is similar, but also different. There are strikers in front of him like Callum Robinson, Shane Long and Sean Maguire, but none of these are in particularly great form themselves. I don’t believe Ireland manager Martin O’Neill fully trusts him to start a game, not until he can show some form at club level anyway, but the opportunity is there for Hogan to make an impression with Villa and Ireland, his chance will come but he needs to be patient and try to improve little facets of his game to stay in the team once his chance does come.